Our drive from Monaco to Aix-en-Provence was a great learning experience. By the time we went through the second of at least ten toll stations, we had figured out what the lane headings meant. We only needed to use the call for assistance the first time. Between toll station two and three I found a great web site, “How to Pay Highway Tolls in France”, that explained everything we needed to know and greatly reduced our stress level.
Julie, our Aix-en-Provence hostess, met us at our apartment. Our location is perfect, right off the Cours Mirabeau, the Champs Elysees of Aix and across from the beautiful Fountaine de la Rotonde.
The view from our apartment window
We are also in a great place to observe life on the street below us. Before we finished unpacking Paul noticed policemen gathering on the plaza below our window. Stepping out on our little balcony, we noticed a parade of yellow-vest protesters walking down the street. It all seemed quite peaceful until we heard a loud sound and saw the police running in to the Apple store. They evacuated the store and closed for a few hours. We still don’t know the whole story, but it was interesting to watch it unfold right below our apartment.
Off to the airport to pick up our friend Scott, and we were ready for our first night in Provence. Paul found a great restaurant with wonderful karma. Incontournable, a short walk from our apartment.
Perfect weather,friendly staff, a beautiful setting,
and fabulous food equaled a lovely start to our week in Provence.
Our experiment was a success! We loved flying non-stop from Miami to Milan, even factoring in the three-hour drive from our home to the Miami airport. Our plane arrived on time, but a broken jet-way delayed our deplaning by thirty minutes. We did not worry about a missed connection. All we had to do was get our rental car and drive to Monaco. Although getting to Monaco was a little longer and chaotic than we planned due to major traffic congestion and winding roads, we were instantly charmed by the beauty of this little country of only 499 acres. Buildings in densely populated Monaco stretch from the Mediterranean Sea up the sides of surrounding mountains.
We enjoyed the balcony off our hotel room that offered a partial view of the marina.
We did not have a lot of time to explore Monaco, but we loved looking at the beautiful boats in the marina and felt lucky to be here when they were celebrating the 14th Monaco Classic Week. Organized by the Monaco Yacht club, the event is the first in the world to showcase sailing and motorboats from the past.
The sailboats were especially beautiful.
Exploring Monaco felt like being in a movie. Members of the Monaco Yacht Club were walking around the marina in their ivory pants and blue blazers and offering champagne toasts. Paul said seeing the famous Monte Carlo Casino made him think of James Bond. And beautiful people in beautiful clothes were everywhere.
We are experimenting on this trip to determine if driving farther to the airport for a non-stop flight is worth the extra driving time. Many of our trips start with where we can get good airfare on ScottsCheapFlights. When a non-stop flight at a good price to an area we were considering from a close-enough airport appeared on this site, we decided to try it. So in a few hours we are driving three hours to Miami International Airport for a non-stop flight to Milan, Italy.
In Milan, we pick up our rental car and head to Aix-en-Provence in southern France with a one-night stay in Monaco along the way. We thought it would be fun to combine a break from the six-hour drive to Aix with a visit to a new country.
Our friend Scott is meeting us in Aix for six days and then we all go to Alba and Verona, Italy. After we bid Scott farewell, Paul and I go to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I was in Aix fourteen years ago on the way to visit my daughter who was doing a study-abroad in Toledo, Spain, but every other destination is new for me and all of them are new for Paul and Scott.
Southern France and northern Italy were easy choices, but we wanted to try something more off the beaten path for our final week. We chose Ljubljana, Slovenia after Paul listened to an Extra Pack of Peanuts podcast that raved about the appeal of Slovenia, a place that had never been on our travel radar.
Lake Bled. Slovenia
We are looking forward to great wine tasting, fabulous food, beautiful sights, invigorating hikes and interesting people and culture.